Dog Training Part IV Reward And Punishment

Dog Training Part IV Reward And Punishment

Most training revolves around giving the​ dog consequences for his behaviour,​ in​ the​ hope of​ influencing the​ behaviour the​ dog will exhibit in​ the​ future. Operant conditioning defines four types of​ consequences:

Positive reinforcement adds something to​ the​ situation to​ increase the​ chance of​ the​ behaviour being exhibited again (for example,​ giving a​ dog a​ treat when he sits.)

Negative reinforcement removes something from the​ situation to​ increase the​ chance of​ the​ behaviour being exhibited again (for example,​ releasing the​ tension on​ an​ uncomfortable training collar when the​ dog stops pulling on​ the​ leash).

Positive punishment adds something to​ the​ situation to​ decrease the​ chance of​ the​ behaviour being exhibited again (for example,​ growling at​ a​ misbehaving dog).

Negative punishment removes something from the​ situation to​ decrease the​ chance of​ the​ behaviour being exhibited again (for example,​ walking away from a​ dog who jumps up).

Most modern trainers say that they use "positive training methods",​ which is​ a​ different meaning of​ the​ word "positive" from that in​ operant conditioning. "Positive training methods" generally means preferring the​ use of​ reward-based training to​ increase good behavior over that of​ physical punishment to​ decrease bad behavior. However,​ a​ good trainer understands all four methods,​ whether or​ not she can put operant-conditioning terminology to​ them,​ and applies them as​ appropriate for the​ dog,​ the​ breed,​ the​ handler,​ and the​ situation.


Positive reinforcers can be anything that the​ dog finds rewarding - special food treats,​ the​ chance to​ play with a​ tug toy,​ social interaction with other dogs,​ or​ the​ owners attention. the​ more rewarding a​ dog finds a​ particular reinforcer,​ the​ more work he will be prepared to​ do in​ order to​ obtain the​ reinforcer.

Some trainers go through a​ process of​ teaching a​ puppy to​ strongly desire a​ particular toy,​ in​ order to​ make the​ toy a​ more powerful positive reinforcer for good behaviour. This process is​ called "building prey drive",​ and is​ commonly used in​ the​ training of​ Narcotics Detection and Police Service dogs. the​ goal is​ to​ produce a​ dog who will work independently for long periods of​ time.

Some trainers believe that the​ toy acts as​ a​ positive reinforcer for the​ desired behavior,​ when in​ all likelihood the​ prey drive works on​ an​ entirely different level from standard training and conditioning techniques. This is​ seen most clearly in​ the​ fact that,​ according to​ the​ laws of​ operant conditioning,​ positive reinforcers lose their effectiveness if​ they're given every single time a​ dog does what is​ desired of​ him; the​ more predictable the​ reinforcer,​ the​ less reliable the​ behavior. Yet detection dogs only work well when they are always rewarded with a​ toy,​ every single time they find drugs or​ explosives,​ etc. the​ reason for this disparity is​ that when a​ dog is​ trained through the​ prey drive,​ the​ training activates an​ instinctive,​ automatic sequence that has to​ be completed in​ order for the​ dog to​ feel satisfied. That sequence is: search,​ eye-stalk,​ chase,​ grab-bite,​ and kill bite. So when a​ dog searches and finds drugs or​ explosives,​ he feels he hasn't finished his job unless he can bite something. This is​ the​ primary reason he's always given the​ toy. It's not really a​ positive reinforcer. if​ it​ were it​ would reduce the​ reliability of​ the​ behavior overall. It's a​ means of​ completing the​ predatory sequence for the​ dog.


"Positive punishment" is​ probably the​ consequence that is​ least used by modern dog trainers,​ as​ it​ must be used very carefully. a​ dog is​ generally only given this type of​ punishment if​ it​ is​ willfully disobeying the​ owner. Punishing a​ dog who does not understand what is​ being asked of​ him is​ not only unfair to​ the​ dog,​ but can make the​ dog a​ fearful or​ unwilling worker.

Punishments are administered only as​ appropriate for the​ dog's personality,​ age,​ and experience. a​ sharp No works for many dogs,​ but some dogs even show signs of​ fear or​ anxiety with harsh verbal corrections. on​ the​ other hand,​ certain dogs with 'harder' temperaments may ignore a​ verbal reprimand,​ and may work best if​ the​ reprimand is​ coupled with a​ physical punishment such as​ a​ quick tug on​ a​ training collar. Trainers generally advise keeping hand contact with the​ dog to​ positive interactions; if​ hands are used to​ threaten or​ hurt,​ some dogs may begin to​ behave defensively when stroked or​ handled.

Avoiding punishment

Keeping a​ puppy on​ a​ leash in​ challenging situations or​ in​ his crate or​ pen when not closely supervised prevents the​ puppy from getting into situations that might otherwise invite an​ owner's harsh reaction (such as​ chewing up a​ favorite pair of​ shoes).

Next: Dog Training part V- the​ command voice

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